The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), says the National Assembly lacks the power to invite the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to speak on security matters.
Malami, who is also the Minister of Justice, said this in a statement titled, ‘Buhari’s Summon: NASS Operates Outside Constitutional Bounds’ on Wednesday.
The House of Representatives led by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had last week invited Buhari over the rising insecurity and the killing of over 43 farmers in Borno State.
An aide to the President, Lauretta Onochie, had also revealed that Buhari would appear before a joint session of the National Assembly on Thursday. However, reports began to filter in on Tuesday that the President had decided not to attend the meeting any longer.
The AGF said security matters remained the exclusive preserve of the executive arm of government and the National Assembly must not forget this.
He said, “The management and control of the security sector are exclusively vested in the President by Section 218 (1) of the Constitution as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces including the power to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces. An invitation that seeks to put the operational use of the Armed Forces to a public interrogation is indeed taking the constitutional rights of law-making beyond bounds.
“As the Commander-in-Chief, the President has exclusivity on security and has confidentiality over security. These powers and rights he does not share. So, by summoning the President on national security operational matters, the House of Representatives operated outside constitutional bounds. President’s exclusivity of constitutional confidentiality investiture within the context of the constitution remains sacrosanct.”
Malami said the President could freely address the National Assembly when he wants but could not be summoned to do so.
He said, “Mr. President has enjoyed Constitutional privileges attached to the Office of the President including exclusivity and confidentiality investiture in security operational matters, which remains sacrosanct.”
The AGF added that the National Assembly has no “constitutional power to envisage or contemplate a situation where the President would be summoned by the National Assembly on the operational use of the Armed Forces.
“The right of the President to engage the National Assembly and appear before it is inherently discretionary in the President and not at the behest of the National Assembly.”
He said Buhari had been able to effectively tackle insecurity and recover lands that were hitherto occupied by Boko Haram.
Malami added, “President Muhammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has recorded tremendous success in containing the hitherto incessant bombing, colossal killings, wanton destruction of lives and property that bedeviled the country before attaining the helm of affairs of the country in 2015.
“The confidentiality of strategies employed by the President as the commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not open for public exposure in view of security implications in the probable undermining of the war against terror.
“The fact that President Muhammadu Buhari was instrumental to the reclaiming of over 14 Local Governments previously controlled by the Boko Haram in North East is an open secret, the strategies for such achievement are not open for public expose.”
While condoling the bereaved and sympathizing with the victims of the associated insecurity in the country, Malami maintained that national security is not about publicity and the nation’s security architecture cannot be exposed for the sake of getting publicity.